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Dementia

General characteristics

General characteristics

Dementia is a word that describes a decline in the function of memory, brain function and/or intellect resulting from a gradual loss of brain cells. The set of symptoms include memory loss, confusion, lack of judgement, speech problems, difficulty understanding things, personality changes, disorientation, inability to cope with everyday tasks, emotional instability and reduced muscle co-ordination.
The symptoms and signs of dementia can be caused by disease processes such as Alzheimer's, AIDS, Lyme's disease, CJD and Parkinson's, cardiovascular disease resulting in a lack of blood supply to the brain, physical trauma or brain injury, some prescription medicines (certain anti-anxiety and sedatives), stress and ageing, vitamin B deficiency, low cholesterol levels (yes, I said low!), prolonged drug or alcohol abuse, brain haemorrhage or brain tumours.
Herbal remedies and natural treatments aim to improve the underlying cause if possible and to provide good, effective nutrition in an effort to slow down or halt the process of dementia.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Poor diet and nutrition are definitely implicated as possible causes of dementia. Free radical damage is suspected to have a detrimental effect on the cells of the brain. It makes sense to eat foods that are very rich in anti-oxidants to counteract the damage caused by free radicals.

Foods rich in anti-oxidants include all berries, in particular blackcurrants, blueberries, cranberries, goji berries, cherries, bilberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries; other fruits such as apples, plums, red grapes, pomegranate, mango, papaya, melon, kiwi and citrus fruits; beans and legumes such as kidney, broad beans and pinto; dark green leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, salad leaves, spinach, watercress and many other foods like sweet pepper, tomatoes, cauliflower, sweet potato, asparagus, corn, carrots, pumpkins, garlic and onions and most nuts and seeds, especially sprouted seeds and grains. Include as many of these in your daily diet as you can. Have a good muesli with plenty of dried fruit and nuts added for breakfast, have a varied salad with lunch and evening meals and a variety of berries and fruits as a fruit salad for dessert.

100% pure, unprocessed coconut oil has been linked with very positive benefits for helping with dementia, improving many symptoms in a matter of weeks. Start with a teaspoon a day then gradually increase to 2 tablespoons a day, spread on bread as you would butter. Countries where coconut oil is used daily have an extremely low rate of dementia and cardiovascular disease. Read this article for an outline of using coconut oil for dementia.

Wholegrains (unprocessed, in their original state) like wheat, oats, quinoa, amaranth, brown rice, millet, rye, barley etc contain plenty of B vitamins so try to eat at least one portion daily, either in the form of muesli, added to soups or as a portion on the plate.

Omega 3 oils are also thought to protect against dementia. The easiest way to obtain these is by eating a handful of unsalted, unseasoned mixed nuts, especially walnuts every day. Oily fish are another great source.

Avoid processed fats and oils and foods containing them as these contribute to free radical proliferation. Do not take supplemental oils except for pure coconut oil.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Turmeric is rich in anti-oxidants so use in cooking or add a teaspoon of powder to your herbal teas.
For dementia caused by cardiovascular problems herbs such as hawthorn berries and flowers, yarrow, oatstraw,, alfalfa, ginkgo and nettle will be useful for supplying nutrients, anti-oxidants, improving circulation and the health of the blood vessels. Mix the herbs in equal parts and take 3 -4 cups daily (1 heaped teaspoon per cup).
Add a pinch of cayenne (chill) powder to your herbal teas for its circulation boosting and anti-oxidant content.
For dementia associated with ageing or other disease processes consider herbs like gingko, gotu kola, vervain, sage and lemon balm. Mix the herbs in equal proportions and use a heaped teaspoon per cup, taking 3 cups daily.
The herb ashwagandha can be a powerful ally to the nerves and brain of dementia sufferers.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Moderate regular exercise is useful for helping the memory, heart and circulation and all round general health.

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